Red Sox, Pirates out to rebound from series loss

Field Level Media

April 19, 2024 at 3:32 am.

Two teams aiming to turn around their recent struggles will go head-to-head when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Boston Red Sox to begin a three-game interleague series on Friday.

The Red Sox look to return to the win column with right-hander Brayan Bello (2-1, 3.92 ERA) on the mound for the fifth time this season.

Boston went 3-7 in its opening homestand after banking just one win over the Cleveland Guardians — a 2-0 win Wednesday — during a four-game series this week that followed Bello’s last outing.

Bello, who has never faced Pittsburgh, threw 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts in his start last Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Red Sox starters have allowed just 27 runs (21 earned) in 102 innings, leading MLB in ERA entering Thursday afternoon’s 5-4 loss to Cleveland.

The team’s issue, however, has been painfully clear.

“It sounds repetitive. People might say (Cora’s) full of (expletive), but we need to play better defense,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s the bottom line.”

To be exact, Boston’s defense has made 20 errors — turning into 26 unearned runs — in 20 games. The loss of shortstop Trevor Story for the season and injuries to Tyler O’Neill and Rafael Devers this week haven’t helped the cause.

The Red Sox are last in the American League East, a half-game behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

“Maybe certain guys might have put a little more pressure on themselves just because we were in a tight game,” first baseman Triston Casas said. “It seemed like they were going hand in hand like, we couldn’t get anything going offensively and then there was just this snowball effect.”

Starting pitching has also been solid for Pittsburgh, but it will have to rebound after suffering a three-game sweep to the New York Mets that concluded with a 9-1 loss Wednesday.

Left-hander Bailey Falter went five innings and gave up his only runs on a two-run homer by Starling Marte in the third inning.

The Pirates were 13-for-89 (.146) and notched only four hits with runners in scoring position while being swept.

“We have to have better at-bats,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “Up until (New York), we’ve had pretty consistent at-bats. (In that) series, we got pitched to. We need to make an adjustment. (Thursday was) probably a good time for an off day. I think we have to be more aggressive.”

Pittsburgh scored just one run in each of the final two losses of the series, but first baseman Rowdy Tellez — who is 3-for-19 with no RBIs over his last seven games — sees no reason to panic at such an early juncture.

“It’s a long season. You are going to have your ups and downs,” Tellez said. “Sometimes, you have to give credit to the other side. They came up with some big situations. It’s three games.”

Pirates right-hander Quinn Priester will make his season debut on Friday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday. Per the report, Priester will replace left-hander Marco Gonzales (forearm muscle strain), who went on the 15-day injured list Sunday.

Priester, who was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in 2019, has never faced the Red Sox.

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